They’d dug out the opening enough for Hortensia, then expanded the nest just a little, smoothing out the floor and rounding edges. “Leafs and twiggies fo’ base and edgies, den’ softie stuffs?” Jason asked, still prancing about to test the flattening of the floor.
Thea nodded. “Howtensia stay hewe. Pack wook fow nestie tings in two’s, nu onesies. Fin’ stuffies, bwing back. Wook fow nummie sign on way.”
Jack bounced over, nosing at Wynnie immediately. “Twosies!” The leucistic mare nosed back, still wincing at the light, but less as it faded into twilight. Irina shot Jack a look at that, but sighed, and Felix began prancing around her hooves. Realizing who that left him with, Jason flattened his ears for a brief moment, then stepped over to Lyra’s side. She didn’t seem any happier about it, but nose touched him, trotting off into the underbrush.
One by one, they came back, dragging brush and grass to layer over the dirt as best they could. Felix was bouncing excitedly behind an amused Irina. “Foun’ nummy fwuffs!”
“hab pwan?” Irina asked Thea, ignoring the excited bounce. “Nu gud fo’ Howtensia tu hunt, nummy hewd big. Saw fouw an’ fouw an’ fouw, an’ babbehs tu.”
Thea looked thoughtful. “Tu muches fo’ pack tu num.Pwan…pway siwens. Wynnifwed and Iwina, dis time, an’ udda Pack wait wit’ me.”
The herd was heading to the safe place, mummah’s and soon mummahs in the lead with the smarty, toughies circling out to check things as the other stallions followed the mares. The blue monochrome paused at the edge of his patrol, sniffing as a green joined him. “Wat wong…. Smeww… fwuffies? Nyu mawes?”
“Nyu mawes. Gud fo’ hewd.” They stepped out, following the soft, remarkably in-tune humming under some of the low trees, where two mares were grooming each other’s fluff. Pretty ones, at that. An ivory pointy mare with bright mane and tail, and a snow white wingie mare half hidden behind the other, both remarkably clean, fluff preened, and pretty smelling compared to some of their mares. The kind of preened, untangled look and clean smell that needed hours of work grooming and little hardship, or human intervention to accomplish. Without thinking it through, the stallions trotted up to the mares. “Pwetty mawes am wost?”
“Am wittw wost.” the ivory one agreed, softly. “Nyu fwiends? Wiww hewp fin’ udda fwiends? Nee’ fin’ sissies.”
The stallions looked at each other. “Dewe mowe wost mawes?” the ivory one nodded, and the white one looked up, finally. …revealing a pointy as well. She was a munsta…but still a mare, and a very pretty smelling one. ….”fwuffies hewp fin udda mawes.” The mares smiled at them, and started walking into the underbrush, waiting for them to catch up. There was something off about them, the odd tails they had… but if there were more mares…
Around a tangle of bushes, they spotted bright colors, and hurried ahead of their find. There really were more mares, blue and gold and….well, even the brown one was at least a mare…. The smarty would be pleased with them, and they’d get their choice of… Some fleeting instinct of danger flashed in their small minds, just as they saw the kitty munsta fangs in the new mare’s smiles.
Just as teeth sank into their hind legs, ripping deep into them as the mares that led them there lunged. “Am wittw wost. Am mowe hungwy.” the ivory one snarled, as the blue bolted as fast as he could away from fangs and pain. This still left him in the middle of the circle, as the munsta fluffies snarled. Green made a move for a gap in the circle, and the brown mare dashed in, slashing her horn across his shoulder and snapping at his leg before stepping back.
Again and again, they tried to leave, but every rush at a mare ended in the others slashing into their exposed sides. Blue charged, one last time, at the munsta mare that started this, even as the blue mare hit Green’s exposed belly, ripping in with those too sharp teeth.
Her horn sank up into his throat, as the ivory mare’s did the same from the side, and he dropped… watching them tug Green’s belly open farther as he screeched, tugging out the sketti like red loops and eating them, as he bled out from the worstest hurties. Just as it all went to black…he felt his own flesh being ripped into.
Hortensia was brought her share first. Well, after those first eager mouthfuls of still hot, bloody intestines and flesh, gulped down before the nummie fluffies had hid the ground, but those didn’t really count. Only after a thick haunch and some of the tastier organs were dragged back on big fuzzy leafies through the underbrush back to the Nestie place and the soon-mummah was happily filling her belly did the others head back to dig in in earnest. Fluff was torn free and carried back to the nesties, flesh ripped into and gulped down. What didn’t tear into bite size chunks on its own, a few quick tug of war’s fixed. In the end, what was left were bloodstains and scraps of hide, bones cracked open for the marrow and left scattered in that little clearing away from their nests.
The bright blue and green fluff made a difference in the nesties they were making, even if most of it went to Hortensia’s larger one for now. There would be more nummie fluffies, after all. Once they were settled back in, necessary grooming began in earnest as the last of the twilight faded, preening each other’s fluff free of blood, assorted gore, and the resulting tangles.
“Mummah Thea? Wen Pack gu wook fo’ hoomans?” Wynnie was the first to ask, still leaning contentedly into Irina’s side as the larger unicorn worked her fluff back to a pristine state.She was returning the favor, of course…just at a somewhat more languid pace, humming lightly to herself again.
“Du pack wan’ gu wook fo’ hoomans?” Jack asked from the nest near hers, sprawled into Thea and Jason. The nests weren’t as soft or well made as the ones back at the lab, but they were good enough to hold a small fluff pile. Well, other than Lyra’s, but that was her choice. If she was nicey, she could join one of the others. “Hab nummies, and mowe fwuffy nummies tu hunt. Hab safe pwace an’ nesties. Hab Pack.”
“Nu hab teebee ow toysies.” Lyra offered from her own nest in the corner. “Wab hab softie beddies an’ dustie baths. Wan guud dusty woww.”
“Nu wud nee’ dustie woww as muchies if hab nuff Pack pweeny times.” Hortensia noted, licking at her ankle fluff again. “Pack wook afta pack.”
The blue unicorn huffed at that. “Nu nuff pweenies. Lywa stiww hab booboo juice in mane.” She attempted to get the bit of mane in question into reach for the umpteenth time.
Irina snorted, hard, licking a last bit of gore from between Wynnie’s wings. “Lywa nee’ spen’ mo times in Pack pweenies. Lywa gives, Lywa gets.” Lyra glared at that, but with far less heat, curling up farther into her nest.
“Nu hab hooman vet-doctow if Howtensia babbeh nu come wite.” Felix remarked, going straight back to the discussion that mattered, tucked under his sister’s side. “Nu extwa wawmsies wen cowd time comes, nu extwa nummies. Jus’ wat pack hunts. Nu can hunt, nu can eats.”
“Onwy if aww pack nu can hunt. If sum pack can hunt, can bwing nummies fow pack that nu can hunt. Wike dis time, bwing Howtensia nummies an’ nestie fwuff.” Wynnie noted, arching a wing up and over Irina’s back as the other demonfluff cuddled into her.
“Sum wab hoomans nicey, miss dem. Miss Genny and Mista Jake gib gud treaties and scritches.” Jason noted. “Bu am nicey hab outsidies an’ jus Pack, tu.” He stretched, and Jack leaned back over to nibble at his golden mane again, trying to get the last of the sticky pricklies out that had stuck to him when he got the fuzzy nummie carry leaves.
Thea watched the younger fluffs, thinking. None of them spoke no-truths. If the humans didn’t find them, they’d lose a lot of things, a lot of ….she struggled to come up with a word for it. The knowing that the humans could fix things, that there would be food and warms, a safe place out of the weather and someone to make hurties go away. If they stayed out here, the Pack was on their own, and without a lot of the little things they used to. The dusty baths to roll in, that could get their fluff dry and less itchy in much less time than it took to preen each other to the skin, the brushy poles they could rub against to untangle and floof their own fluff if they didn’t have another at hand to do it.
The dusty baths she would miss, even more than toys or tv. But they did have the pack, and the pack looked after each other. She’d managed to teach them that much. Like the sticky pricklies. She knew it gave small mouth hurties to chew them out, but it would be more hurties to leave them to matt into their fluff. And the pack knew if they did it for one, the others would do it for them. Except for Lyra, but she was…getting there. Thea was certain she could eventually fix the silliness her mummah had taught her, the same silliness that had ended in her given Wynnie and Jason when all three were still little chirpies.
“Pack am keep wookin’ fo’ hoomans. Twy see an’pwace wook wike hunt pwaces, wike way back tu wab. Bu’ Pack nu gu tu fa’ wookin’. Pack stay hewe, see if wab hoomans come backies. If du, den Pack gu homies. If nu, den dis am Pack home.” She eventually announced, and the Pack murmured back acceptance in assorted levels of contentment. “Nao, Pack nee’ sweepies. Hunt mowe when Bwite time back.” There was a far less content sign from Wynnie at that, but that was as it always was.
Thea watched as her pack settled in to sleep in their new nests, before leaning in against Jason and Jack and drifting off herself.
Intro- After the Pack- A demonfluff sequel. [Shadowfox]
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